Saturday, October 23rd | 18 Heshvan 5782

May 31, 2016 1:11 pm

To Mark ‘World No Tobacco Day,’ Israel Launches New Program to Help IDF Soldiers Quit Smoking Via SMS

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Cigarette-smoking among IDF soldiers being tackled through new SMS program. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Cigarette-smoking among IDF soldiers is being tackled through a new SMS program. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A new program seeks to help IDF soldiers quit smoking, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the program – a joint endeavor of the IDF Medical Corps, the Israel Cancer Association, Hebrew-University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Israeli Health Ministry – was launched on March 31, “World No Tobacco Day.”

The Cancer Association said that the free program, which offers help via cellphone, was designed especially for IDF soldiers, who are spread out all over the country, and need an innovative way of having a support system.

When signing up for the program – on the Cancer Association web site — each soldier must select the date on which he or she intends to kick the habit, about two weeks from the time of registration. Afterwards, each participant will begin to receive encouraging messages via SMS.

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The system is dynamic, and geared towards the specific needs of each individual throughout the process of withdrawal, which can involve cravings, falling “off the wagon” and mood swings.

According to nrg, a pilot study revealed the program to be applicable to Israeli smokers, and that approximately one third of participants were still not smoking during the three-month follow-up period . This is consistent with similar programs elsewhere in the world, which have shown that participation in such inexpensive and accessible programs doubles a person’s chances of quitting smoking.

A law prohibiting smoking in a number of public places was enacted in Israel in May 2011. In July 2014, it was amended to extend the ban to sports stadiums. On February 7, 2016, the law was amended yet again, to extend the ban to educational institutions, including:

prohibition of smoking in the building itself, prohibition of allocating a smoking room inside the building, prohibition of smoking in all backyards in the institution’s premises or in students’ dormitories, and prohibition of smoking within ten feet from the entrance or exit of the educational institution. This policy applies to all institutions except higher education or post-secondary institutions. At this stage, these institutions will continue to follow the policy previously used [which allows for smoking in outdoor areas].

Among other countrywide activities dedicated to this endeavor, the Knesset will hold a “day without smoking” on June 14.

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